President Trump touted his efforts to rebuild the military and breathe life into the nation’s manufacturing sector in a winding address that also promoted the USMCA trade deal and his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking from an outdoor stage against the background of a Littoral combat ship at Fincantieri Marinette Marine late this afternoon, the president praised the shipyard and its workers after it was awarded a nearly $800 million contract to build a first-in-class guided-missile frigate for the Navy. The contract includes the possibility for nine additional ships and could be worth $5.5 billion if all options are exercised.
“Not long ago, the future of this historic shipyard was looking… can I use the word bleak?” he said. “Through your sweat, skill and devotion, the workers of the shipyard will forge the future of the United States Navy.”
Trump said the contract — which he touted as one of “biggest contracts you’ve ever seen in the state” — would bring 15,000 jobs through the Wisconsin supply chain.
“You notice that’s not a supply chain going through China and going through other countries, it’s called… the Wisconsin supply chain,” he said.
During his address, Trump used China as a regular foil — first noting that “this horrible virus… came from China and it hit 188 countries.” Trump said in response, the United States developed “the greatest testing program in the world” and said the uptick in COVID-19 cases was because testing had been expanded.
“If we didn’t want to test, or if we didn’t test, we wouldn’t have cases. But we have cases because we test,” he said.
The president also used China to transition to touting the USMCA trade deal, which he said forced Canada to “treat us fairly.” He then slammed NAFTA, the USMCA’s predecessor, as “the worst trade deal ever made in the history of mankind.”
Trump’s final reference to China came as he shifted to attack his political adversaries in Washington, a move that drew the largest cheer of the day from the estimated 600-person crowd.
The president said the toughest opponent he has faced are congressional Dems, who he said are worse than China, Russia and North Korea.
“The Democrats in the USA are much tougher to deal with any of these people that we deal with,” he said. “They’re far more unreasonable, and actually they’re a little crazy.”
Before Trump’s visit, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, released an op-ed calling on the president to ensure a Wisconsin company builds the engines for the new frigates.
“While we welcome a visit by the President to see the hard work that has been going into Wisconsin shipbuilding for decades, we also look for him to finish the job and reward Wisconsin workers by making sure Made in Wisconsin ships are powered by engines built in Wisconsin, she wrote.
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, praised Trump for “rebuilding our Navy.”
“Today, President Trump saw firsthand the hard work and unparalleled skill of the workforce at Fincantieri Marinette Marine,” he said. “Under his leadership, the United States is committed to rebuilding our Navy, and this visit makes clear he understands the important role the men and women in Marinette will play in helping the country achieve that goal.”
Prior to his visit to the shipyard, Trump taped a town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity at the Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport. The event is set to air at 8 p.m.
Watch the video (begins at 6:30):